The pandemic has afforded me the opportunity to share my greatest career achievements with the people who support me the most; when otherwise they would not normally be available.
In 2010, my father, a former school bus mechanic was watching the local news. He was bothered by a story that came on about a local teenager who was killed by a motorist who illegally passed a school bus. His solution was a new invention, a school bus pedestrian safety lighting system to prevent future tragedies. My dad showed me his solution, and I loved it. I offered my skills in marketing to assist with this endeavor. I helped grow the business, but it was not without its many challenges. Thankfully, I have a very loving family that showed extra support during the trying times.
School buses are the safest and most regulated vehicles on the road. The stringent regulations are only amplified as each state has their own laws and requirements as to permitting new school bus equipment. The daunting task of growing a small business became even harder with each state’s procedures. I was rejected time after time by various transportation directors and state school bus committees. Gradually over time the business picked up as more states permitted this solution to illegal passing. We now have this life-saving device available on entire fleets and allowed in 23 states.
A fatal school bus pedestrian tragedy from Rochester, Indiana caught the attention of the nation in 2018. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the crash which involved a woman that killed three students and seriously injured a fourth child as she disregarded the stopped school bus. The NTSB was finishing their investigation in 2019 when they came across our solution. We were contacted, and I facilitated setting up a meeting with them on July 10, 2019 in our home-town. Not knowing what information I needed, I collected everything I could think of. I filled a 4 inch think binder with over 50 years’ worth of reports, statistics, along with our own data, testing, and various state correspondences. The meeting went well, and we ended up supplying the agency with 25 pounds of evidence which was sent off to agents in Washington D.C. who scrutinized this information.
On March 31, 2020, I learned the fate of the evidence I complied. My attention to detail impressed the NTSB; so much so, that they included my documentation in 4 federal reports, including the final investigation report. The NTSB’s final recommendations included and echoed my efforts mentioned throughout the binder.
On April 7, 2020, my family was home because of remote schooling/work due to COVID-19. After making sure the children completed their studies for the day, I canceled school earlier than usual and we all went downstairs as a family. We sat in front of the desktop computer as I shared what we all have been a part of...a federal investigation and people in Washington D.C heard me. History was made this day, and I was able to share it with those who helped make it possible and who support me most. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I’m not sure I would have been able to share this experience with my family as they would have been at work and school.
A few weeks later, I was reunited with the binder whose contents aided a high-profile Federal investigation after spending 9 months in Washington D.C. The following month we all sat and watched as the NTSB presented a photo of the school bus lighting system on their slides during a webinar. On June 11, 2020 the 1.5 trillion dollar bill H.R. 2 the Moving Forward Act was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. There you can find my tenacity to include enhanced lighting of the “Sec. 4402 Illegal passing of school buses” as much of the text is derived from the NTSB’s final investigation report. Then on July 1, 2020, the bill was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with much praise by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and upon the time of writing is sitting in the Senate.
I’m so honored to be making a difference and so humbled by the results from the great hardworking teams of people especially at the NTSB and the United States Congress. My stress level has increased in 2020, but so has the love in my heart. I’m thankful for those helping me understand my own value and truly validating not just the work I do, but also myself. My labor in public safety is now forever etched in federal documents inspiring not only the community, but also federal recommendations along with legislation for generations to come. Thanks to the pandemic, I was able to share my greatest career achievements with the people who support me the most; when otherwise they would not normally be available. I am forever grateful for 2020 and the people that surround me.